China's recent emergence as a preeminent innovator in the science and technology sectors has come as a bit of a sting to many of the world's top economies and innovative powers.
However, many analysts are misreading the country's evolution as being indicative of stalled innovation on the part of the U.S., Germany or Japan, when in fact the enormous growth stems merely from China's low point of departure – a trend that has led many to confuse growth rates with innovation itself.
"China seems to have hit its stride after sprinting over the last few decades to catch up," writes Jeremy Hsu for Business News Daily. "And much evidence shows it is still trying to translate the sheer quantity of published papers and patent filings into quality products and services."
The world's second-largest economy is already expected to surpass the U.S. in patent filings by 2011. In 2009, China became the second largest contributor of articles to international science journals.
But, once again, these figures do not directly quantify innovation. While it is true that China has emerged as a global powerhouse in science and technology, on top of being the world's largest manufacturer, innovation remains difficult to measure.
As Mark Boroush, a senior analyst at the National Science Foundation said: "Innovation is a very complex phenomenon that doesn't boil down to a single number."